Faculty of Biological Sciences

Accelerated training for the Biopharmaceutical Industry

  • This unique professional training course delivered in collaboration with the multinational company Covance has been designed to train future leaders in the biopharmaceutical industry.
  • The course is 20 months in duration covering campus-based taught modules in the first six months, followed by a 12-month guaranteed paid placement in industry. You can expect to earn approximately £20,000 over the duration of your placement.
  • This course will provide you with an integrated understanding of the full biological drug development pathway and the regulatory framework. We are focusing mainly on large molecule drugs: monoclonal antibodies like Herceptin, bio-similars and antibody-drug conjugates; gene therapies and the technologies that underpin the discovery and development pathway.
  • You will be taught by leading industrialists and internationally renowned academics working at the forefront of their fields in the areas of science that underpin drug development.
  • You will access cutting edge practical technologies and gain hands-on practical training in protein purification, characterisation, formulation and assessment of binding function. In addition you will use cell-based assays to look at drug potency, all performed in a strict regulated environment to prepare you for working in this regulated industry.

Many pharmaceutical companies are expanding their biopharmaceutical capability, which is creating demand, and thus opportunities, for talented, well-trained people. At the same time, these companies report difficulties in recruiting employees with relevant skill sets and those with broad industrial experience are greatly sought after.

To address this skills gap, the University of Leeds and Covance have formed this partnership to train the next generation of scientists for the biopharmaceutical industry.

Application deadline: Monday 31 July 2017.

Related courses

Bioscience MSc
Infection, Immunity and Human Disease MSc
Plant Science and Biotechnology MSc

Course content

This course will provide you with an understanding of biological drug development focusing on each of the major steps of the process:

  • discovery
  • manufacturing
  • pre-clinical testing
  • clinical trials
  • market access and
  • the regulatory and legal aspects framework that ensure safe practice and the development of safe and effective medicines.

Biopharmaceutical Development Modules

Course structure

Over the first six to seven months starting in September you will study 100 credits worth of taught modules.

Biopharmaceutical Development Pathway 5 credits

Setting the scene for the full course, this module provides an overview of the drug development pathway, from research and development to marketed product, focusing on biologics (antibodies, vaccines, gene therapy, ADCs).

You will be introduced to the medical, scientific and economic drivers – costs, number of leads, attrition rate – associated with drug development. The module outlines the regulatory framework for biologic drug development, including GLP, GCP and GMP, and provides a context for these through reference to landmark cases.

Biopharmaceutical Drug Discovery 10 credits

This module provides an outline of the principles of drug discovery of biological molecules (as distinct from small chemical molecules) with teaching and advice from scientists working in the biopharmaceutical industry.

It considers the drug development pipeline at the preclinical stage:

  • druggable target identification
  • target validation
  • biologic drug formats
  • biological libraries and screening for target hits
  • assay development
  • lead identification
  • hit-to-lead optimisation
  • preclinical disease modelling

The module will introduce you to the team-based analytical process used by industry before commencing a drug development project. This includes target identification and justification, a basic understanding of the path forward and the best mode of action (e.g. format of the biologic, naked antibody, immunoconjugate, peptide, ADC, etc.).

Manufacturing Biopharmaceuticals 20 credits

This module provides an in-depth introduction to biologics manufacturing.

It addresses issues related to upstream processing (cell lines and culture systems), downstream processes (product purification), analytics (chemical analysis of products), formulation, quality assurance and safety compliance.

Biopharmaceutical Development: Pre-Clinical 10 credits

This module provides an introduction to the preclinical testing requirements for biologics and how this enables clinical development and ultimately marketing application.

The different testing requirements for different biological products (e.g. monoclonal antibodies, recombinant proteins, gene therapy products and vaccines) are discussed and you will gain an understanding of the analytical techniques used to examine pharmacokinetics, toxicokinetics and anti-product antibodies.

You will have the opportunity to critically appraise the preclinical development strategies for a range of candidate molecules and identify go/no-go points to develop an understanding of the decision-making process on whether to continue or stop a project.

Biopharmaceutical Development: Clinical 10 credits

This module provides an outline to the principles of clinical trial design and conduct in the biologics development setting.

The emphasis is on understanding the practical issues that arise through real-life examples, backed up with the relevant theory. It expands on the introduction provided in the Biopharmaceutical Development Pathway module, and link the Preclinical Biopharmaceutical Development and Commercialisation of Biopharmaceuticals modules, providing grounding in the basic specialist knowledge and skills required by the biopharmaceutical industry.

Integrated Drug Development Plan 10 credits

An integrated drug development plan is submitted to the regulator (e.g. FDA) to gain permission to progress a drug to human clinical trial.

This module is project based, with students working in teams to produce a drug development plan. This plan integrates all the preclinical aspects of a particular biopharmaceutical product, establishing the evidence base supporting its safety and efficacy and the appropriateness of planned clinical trials.

Teams will develop a target product profile for a drug, construct an integrated development plan (manufacturing, non-clinical and clinical), take feedback from a regulatory authority and submit an investigational new drug (IND) proposal to the regulator.

Commercialising Biopharmaceutical Products 10 credits

This module explores how economic value is captured in the biopharmaceutical industry.

It focuses on salient intellectual property rights (IPR) and the external drivers that influence business decisions (economic, societal, technological and legal). Working in teams, students will take part in projects that evaluate an opportunity from the IPR perspective (freedom to operate, creative solutions), and create an opportunity business model (OBM) to exploit a particular biotechnological breakthrough. In addition, students will formally evaluate the teamwork and leadership performance of themselves and their team whilst delivering these projects.

Practical Skills for a Regulatory Environment 25 credits

Students follow a programme of experiments and analyses applying techniques used to characterise biopharmaceuticals modelled on quality guidelines such as ICH Q6B.

The module covers chromatography for protein purification, analyses of aggregation and protein stability to in vitro interaction analysis and cell-based activity assays. You will learn about the importance of working to instruction and record-keeping for a regulatory environment.

Seven months after the start of the course (April/May), you will start a 12-month industrial placement where you will undertake a research project worth 80 credits.

Industrial Placement & Research Project 80 credits

An integral part of this course is your first paid job in industry. This course incorporates a 12-month guaranteed paid work placement in industry. You can expect to expect to earn approximately £20,000 over the duration of their placement.

The placement will include a practical research project where you will gain in-depth practical experience of at least one technical function of the drug development process (discovery, manufacturing, pre-clinical testing, clinical safety and efficacy).

You will commence your project in April, six-months after the start of the programme and will be completed by the following April. Graduation is scheduled immediately thereafter, making you available for employment immediately after your placement.

Learning and teaching

The learning and teaching on the course has been constructed to align with activities performed in industry.

This course will challenge you to think creatively, solve problems and develop strong communication and teamwork skills. You’ll experience a wide range of teaching methods, including formal lectures, interactive workshops, practical classes and industry site visits.

There will be extensive use of real-life, industry specific case studies to illustrate theoretical and practical concepts and multiple opportunities to work in teams, including the opportunity to lead a team. A wide range of ‘authentic’ assessments will be used that students will experience in the workplace including submissions to regulatory authorities, client reports and presentations to industry panel members.

Entry requirements

Normally a 2:1 honours degree or equivalent in a Biological Sciences subject, Bioprocessing or Biochemical Engineering, but relevant experience may be taken into account. In addition, applicants will need to demonstrate leadership potential, which might be evidenced from academic, sporting, volunteering or other professional experience.

How to apply

Documents and information you’ll need:

  • completed online application form (for Taught Postgraduate Study)
  • completed supporting statement outlining your career intentions and state how your achievements / experiences set you up to excel on this course. Plus describe your leadership style and experiences and how you can become a future leader in biopharmaceutical development.
  • full CV
  • transcript of degree examination marks achieved to date
  • copy of final degree certificate (if completed)
  • two academic references
  • evidence of English language qualification (non-native English speakers only)
  • copy of passport (if you’re an overseas student).

Frequently asked questions about the course.

Application deadline: Monday 31 July 2017.

  Apply   >  

This link takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.
If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 (general) student visa are not permitted to study our MSc in Biopharmaceutical Development. This programme includes a mandatory work placement that consists of more than 50% of the total length of the course. The UKVI Home Office will not issue a visa if the duration exceeds 50%. Further information can be found here.

We will consider any international applicants that do not require a Tier 4 visa. Please contact our taught postgraduate admissions team directly fbspgt@leeds.ac.uk

If you are an International (non-EU/EEA or Swiss citizen) applicant who has applied for, or intends to apply for, this course within the Faculty of Biological Sciences you will require an ATAS certificate.

Admissions policy

Link to admissions policy document


UK/EU: £20,000 (total)

International: £30,000 (total)

Fees explained

Fee structure
Year 1 Placement
Oct Nov Jan Feb Apr May
Tuition Fee Payment £4,444.33 £4,444.33 £4,444.34
Student Loan Instalment £1,713.00 £1,713.00 £1,713.00
Year 2
Oct Nov Jan Feb Apr May
Tuition Fee Payment £2,222.33 £2,222.33 £2,222.33
Student Loan Instalment £1,713.00 £1,713.00 £1,713.00

Tuition fee = £20,000. Students will pay in 6 instalments across the duration of the course (November, February and May).

Placement salary = £20,000 (approx.) You will start receiving a placement salary of £1,333.00* per month after tax. * Please note National Insurance will also be deducted

Government-backed loan = Up to £10,280. You will receive your loan in 6 payments across the duration of the course (October, January and April). Find out more.

There are other general living costs which you will need to budget for. Read more about paying fees and charges

Other sources of funding

If you are a former student of the University of Leeds you may be eligible for a 10% alumni tuition fee bursary

Professional and Career Development Loans = between £300 and £10,000. Find out more.

You can also search our postgraduate scholarships database

You can also find information on MoneySavingExpert

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

We award a generous range of scholarships and consider all eligible applicants who demonstrate outstanding academic achievement and excellent personal and professional skills.

If you are a former student of the University of Leeds you may be eligible for a 10% alumni tuition fee bursary

Visit our FBS fees and scholarships page to find out more about the range of scholarships we have to offer.

First steps into an industrial career

The course is designed to train talented scientists wishing to pursue a career in drug development in the international biopharmaceutical industry.

You will be exposed to senior industrialists working as tutors throughout the course and can take this opportunity to obtain career advice. Furthermore, you will work in industry full-time for 12 months, which represents an outstanding opportunity to develop a competitive career plan.

On completion of the course, you will have the relevant knowledge and experience to fast-track your career as, for example, an analytical scientist, project manager, or coordinator, in areas such as research, quality control, manufacturing, project management, non clinical, clinical, and market access.

All students on the programme will have the opportunity to be assigned to an industry-mentor and will be assigned a personal tutor (academic member of staff) for the duration of their studies. You will be supported in your career planning through sessions that develop your CVs and applications.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Request course brochure


Masters Scholarships

Key Facts

Start date:
September 2017

20 months full time

UK/EU Fees: £20,000 (total)
International Fees: £30,000 (total)
Fees explained

Entry requirements:
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons)
Full entry requirements

This course has a mandatory paid work placement.

Course terms & conditions

University awards

University of the year 2017

Student Profile

"Learning about the drug development process has opened my eyes to the different fields that are involved in developing a drug and I now have an interest in preclinical analysis for drug discovery."
Read more

Beth Peacock , MSc Biopharmaceutical Development